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The Elimination Diet: Everything You Need To Know
Have you heard of the elimination diet? Maybe you heard a friend speak about it or read about it in a magazine. But before you shut it down as another fad diet that’s supposed to help you lose a ridiculous amount of weight in a groundbreaking amount of time, you should know that this is not a diet that causes fat to “melt before your eyes.” While the goal of this diet isn't to loose weight, it eliminates all inflammatory foods from the diet so many do experience weight loss, better sleep, improved energy and clearer skin and mind.
The Elimination Diet is for helping you figure out your food intolerances and enhancing your quality of life. By removing certain foods known to cause adverse reactions or that you suspect are giving you issues, you can then identify which ones are bothering you as you slowly reintroduce them back into your diet one by one.
Let’s take a closer look into the process...
How It Works
An elimination diet can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months and is used by many who experience symptoms of food sensitivities or intolerance. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, frequent gas, bloating, nausea, headaches, indigestion, puffy eyes, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue and cramps. By eliminating inflammatory foods for a period of time and then reintroducing them one by one you can act as your own personal health detective and discover which foods may be behind your symptoms. Once you discover your trigger foods, you can now remove them from your daily diet to prevent any further discomfort.
An Elimination Diet breaks down into two phases. The first phase gives the diet its name: elimination, or the avoidance phase. This is followed by the reintroduction, or testing phase.
This portion of the process usually lasts for 2-3 weeks. During this time you will slowly remove known allergens. Be sure to include foods you suspect are giving you issues.
Foods to avoid during this phase include:
Foods to favor:
- Non-glutinous whole grains
- Healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, ghee)
- Well sourced organic meat in small quantities
- Legumes (always soaked overnight, in small quantities)
This also the best time to determine if your symptoms are in fact caused by foods or are pointing to something else. If you don’t experience relief from your symptoms after removing these foods from your diet, then you should speak to your doctor about other possible causes.
It takes time for inflammation in the body caused by trigger foods to heal. That's why it important to give the above diet at least two weeks before reintroducing foods. When you're ready to reintroduce more foods into your diet, individually reintroduce each food group one at a time. If you experience any discomfort, that's indication that your body reacts to that food group. Return to the elimination diet for a day or so until symptoms subside and consider removing that food group from your diet as much as possible.
This is when you should look for tell-tale signs of allergies or sensitivities such as:
- Joint pain
- Fatigue or difficulty sleeping
- Stomach pain
- Irregular bowel movements
If when you reintroduce a food and you don’t experience any of these reactions, it’s a good sign that your body accepts it and you can move on to the next group.
Giving your body the time to test each type of food as you reintroduce them means that the entire process should last about 5-6 weeks.
We advise you to consult with your healthcare professional before embarking on an elimination diet. It is also helpful to seek the support of a health coach or a nutritionist during the process.
What Can You Eat On An Elimination Diet?
While you are taking out so many staples in American diets, it’s important to make sure you are still nourishing your body with plenty of nutrients. However, you still need to avoid possibly irritating foods. When you feel restricted and strapped in by boundaries it’s helpful to know what you can do. Below are some foods that you are able to eat when going through this process.
- Fruits (excluding citrus)
- Veggies excluding nightshades
- Meats like chicken, turkey, or lamb
- Alternative mylks like coconut mylk or oat mylk (unsweetened with no added gums or fillers- we recommend making them at home!)
- Fats like olive oil or coconut oil
- Water and herbal teas
Benefits of an Elimination Diet
Aside from finding out what your body does not get along with, the Elimination Diet can have other side benefits. This includes improving conditions that are likely caused by your food sensitivities.
IMPROVE IBD/IBS SYMPTOMS
The FODMAP diet is the most common elimination diet. It can help determine if you have Irritable Bowel Disease and ease the symptoms if so.
If you know that you suffer from IBD, you might experience improvement stomach cramps, gas, and bloating. In one study, those who stuck to the FODMAP diet saw a significant reduction in their symptoms.
MAY IMPROVE SKIN CONDITIONS
Elimination diets are thought to help reduce symptoms of certain skin conditions including eczema and possibly atopic dermatitis. Studies have shown that the elimination process determined the difference between patients with allergies and those with only a food intolerance, and resulted in symptoms completely disappearing.
MAY HELP WITH MIGRAINES
Although the actual cause of migraine still remains unclear, studies show that inflammation might be a trigger for migraines. Because the Elimination diet removes most inflammatory foods the link between the process and reduced chronic migraines is supported.
Is An Elimination Diet Right For You?
If you constantly feel bloated, gassy, and downright uncomfortable after eating - you should know that it’s not a normal thing. It’s not just something you have to deal with. If you think everyone puts up with this on a regular basis and it’s nothing to think twice about - think again.
Looking for a professional to walk you through the process correctly? OWL’s very own Lindsey Wilson is a IIN certified health coach ready to help you on your journey to a higher quality of life. Book a free 15 minute consultation with Amanda Patnik or session with any of our coaches to get started on your pathway to healing.
Your body was built to feel good. If it’s telling you something is wrong, then listen carefully and act lovingly.
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing